Taking from a great number of resources to help create a fun character is an age-old tradition. From literary works borrowing classic foils, reworking of film characters, Commedia dell'arte in theatre, and satire, there is no end to options for reworking old ideas into new. Here are some quick and easy places to draw inspiration and then make your own.
1. Sleuth and Detective
Borrow from Dick Tracy, Sherlock Holmes, or go more modern and create a new Gregory House, Bones, or maybe it was Murder, She Wrote. Listen, if Star Trek can work it into their world, you can work it into yours.
You can go dark and mysterious, with someone with a large edge to them. Or you can work with the sympathetic villainous type like Severus Snape. Search comic book villains for inspiration or even fairy tale villains. You don't even have to play them completely evil. But steal their motivations, their way of speaking, or their backstory to get your character started.
Everyone loves an anti-hero for interest. Your Han Solo, Captain Jack Sparrow, or Beetlejuice from film are a decent place to start. Or you can reach for your bookcase and pull out Huck Finn or even Macbeth. But this isn't even close to a complete list of possibilities in this genre, you can google various lists of the best anti-heroes ever. Embrace the duality of these iconic characters and make them your own.
4. Commedia dell'arte
Go really “old school” and look for these italian theatre tropes. They all have a classic posture, way of moving, motivation, and relationship with other characters. There is so much depth in these stock characters that you can see these used over and over again throughout the fictional world. Maybe you want to try out Pantalone, whose greed and focus on money was mimicked by Scrooge. You could pull from one of the overly dramatic Innamorati lovers who are beautiful, not bright, and are in love with the idea of being in love. There is no end to the ideas to pull from these classics.
As you can see, you can borrow from almost anywhere. Ask yourself, what are some movies, books, and popular culture that have influenced you? Find your favourite characters and get to moulding them.
This article was written by Vanessa who is a sarcastic, 30-something wife and mother. She likes things and stuff, but not simultaneously. When she isn’t involved in things and stuff, she teaches middle school science, math, art, and other random subjects. She loves new teenagers in action. They make her laugh and shake her head and her world is much better with laughter. She thinks everyone should be roleplaying. She is also trying out this new twitter handle at @sarasma_nessa
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.